MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – A huge second half surge by Central Michigan led the Chippewas to an 83-56 win over Northern Illinois Saturday afternoon at McGuirk Arena. In a Mid-American Conference West Division contest, CMU (10-7, 4-0 MAC) outscored NIU (5-12, 0-4 MAC) 42-19 in the second stanza to earn its fourth straight win over the Huskies in Mount Pleasant.
“We played well on offense in the first half,” said NIU Head Coach Kathi Bennett. “We didn’t play so well on defense, though, and then fell apart defensively in the second half, which was disappointing. We gave up too many transition points. We need to work on keeping our energy level up the entire game. It was good in the first half and fell off in the second.”
A fast-paced first half that saw both teams open up near a 70 percent shooting rate in the first eight minutes swayed in favor of CMU late in the half. NIU held a 29-27 lead and had just forced a turnover, but Amanda Corral came up short on a fastbreak layup, and the Chippewas answered with a three-pointer to take the lead with 4:40 left. The triple ignited an 11-0 run as CMU dropped in two more threes and took full control of the game.
Corral ended the run with a three and also ended the half with a three to cut it to a 41-37 deficit at the break, despite NIU shooting 61.5 percent – the second highest first half shooting percentage of the season. Satavia Taylor and Corral kept the Huskies close by scoring 13 and 12, respectively, and combining to shoot 10-for-15 from the field.
However, the Huskie offense couldn’t keep up with CMU in the second half and NIU’s defense struggled to stop the Chippewas, who scored the most points of the season against the Huskies and handed them their largest loss of the season. CMU held NIU to a 28.6 shooting percentage and forced seven turnovers in the second half. The Chippewas also took advantage at the free throw line with aggressive drives, going 13-for-13 in the second half while NIU was 3-for-7.
A 7-0 run from the 16:17 mark to the 14:25 mark by CMU opened up the game and got the Chippewas rolling. Then after a Taylor three, the Chips pushed out to a 19-4 run to really pull away from the Huskies.
A bulk of CMU’s damage was done by Taylor Johnson and Crystal Bradford. Johnson led the game with 25 points on 5-for-6 shooting from three-point territory. Bradford scored 14 along with 14 rebounds and eight assists. For the game, CMU held edges over NIU in points off turnovers (17-6), second chance points (12-3), fast break points (13-2) and bench points (38-12).
Taylor led NIU with 22 points on 10-for-17 shooting, coming two shy of tying a career high. Corral turned in 16 points and a team-high six rebounds.
NIU, who was also 0-4 in MAC play at this point last season and then ripped off wins in six of its next eight games, returns home for two straight home games, starting with a 7 p.m. CT meeting with Western Michigan on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at the Convocation Center.